Rebecca L. Davis is the Miller Family Early Career Professor of History at the University of Delaware, with a joint appointment in the Department of Women and Gender Studies. She is the author of More Perfect Unions: The American Search for Marital Bliss (2010), a history of how marriage counseling shaped twentieth-century American religion, social science, and gender politics. She is completing Public Confessions: The Religious Conversions that Changed American Politics, and she is the co-editor of Heterosexual Histories (with Michele Mitchell), forthcoming early 2021 from New York University Press. Her current book project is Sex in America (Liveright). Davis serves as a producer and the story editor for the Sexing History podcast. A former postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, she was a visiting fellow there during the 2016–2017 academic year.
By 1946 Clare Boothe Luce was already serving her second term in Congress (R-CT) and was the author of several well regarded plays, most famously, The Women. Her husband, Henry Luce, stood atop an ever-growing publishing empire. Clare Luce surprised everyone, however, when she converted to Roman Catholicism in 1946 under the tutelage of Monsignor (later Bishop) Fulton Sheen. She seized the attention her conversion generated to promote Catholicism as the solution to global communism. This talk explores the ironies and unintended consequences of Luce's celebration of Catholic conversion in the late 1940s, arguing for her place among the most influential religious anti-Communists of the mid-20th century.